I’ve been spending this week mostly in bed, down with something. I’m alright and pretty good actually. The symptoms were not bad but I had a low-grade fever and low energy. So, I cancelled all my teaching work this week and spent an awesome few days resting.
Being in bed doesn’t mean that life stops happening. There have been some big things happening on all ends of the Life’s curves and spectrums. At the end of the day, everything that happened were great and I’d like to share one of them.
So, drum roll please…
I have my first writing as a guest author posted on someone else’s site!
It’s not Huffington Post or The Guardian and not even a local publication, but I think it’s small accomplishment and I’m proud of it, especially since it’s a personal story. I’m also happy cause by holding the intention of learning to be a better writer, I keep being led forward to various opportunities to share my writings.
I know that I’m more comfortable sharing my stories as compared others, but it’s still not an easy thing to do.
It was my friend’s – Alaine’s – idea of writing it. We thought it would be a good way to spread the word about Social Zen Retreats. She suggested a “spotlight on Meta” type of story. I hesitated at first because most of the stories on the site give advices on how to do this or that and live a better life. But I decided to go on with the idea of sharing my story and the guys at Retreat Place liked it!
I am fascinated by the mysteries of this universe and The Boy who Knew Too Much feeds my fascination about past lives and reincarnation.
I grew up a Catholic but deep down I’ve always believed in reincarnations and having past lives. This fascination led to an interest in Asian myths and religions as well as my own personal experiences encountering memories of past-lives in recent years. And because of this, I like reading books about children’s memories of their past lives.
Lots of children under the age of 6 remember their previous lives or the time before they were born. Memories of Heaven is another book that I enjoyed reading cause it shares stories of a child’s past life and his recollection of time before birth.
When I first heard about The Boy who Knew Too Much, I was immediately intrigued by story of Christian Hanupt that recalled his previous life as Lou Gehrig. Anyone who has lived in the States and sometimes keep up with sports would have heard of this Baseball legend. Unfortunately, people also associate Lou Gehrig with the disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) – now known as the Lou Gehrig Disease, that took his life in 1941. Remember the ALS ice bucket challenge a few years ago? They were raising money for the cure to this disease.
It’s amazing to hear stories of someone who was as big as Lou Gehrig in his previous life. I also like Cathy Bird’s story of how she came to terms with this odd revelation. But really, it was Christian’s story that hooked me in.
My favorite part of the book is how it reminded me that our soul is so much bigger than the physical body and physical life we have at present. The soul has a bigger purpose and the soul is connected to the whole entire Life on this planet (and beyond?). As a human, one of the hardest thing we have to go through are separations and heart breaks. It’s nice to read stories like this to be reminded that the soul doesn’t know separation and we are always connected to each other :).
I heard one of the big production houses is making a film out of the book. Read it before it goes to the screen!
Interested to buy The Boy Who Knew Too Much?You can check it here.
We are coming closer to the middle part of the year. And since almost half a year has passed, I’d like to talk about Retreat and Relax cause between now and August is a great time to do both!
Cause we’re going into summer time in the northern hemisphere and winter time in the northern hemisphere. Both are great times to take it easy – whether to be more playful, or to take a reflective rest.
Cause it’s the school holidays for those of you with little ones, still in school, or teaching at a school.
Cause it’s a good time to take a break, recalibrate, and gather energy to head towards the second half of the year :).
I believe that our beings are made up of a mind, a body, and a soul and that all 3 parts form a balanced trinity that make up our ultimate healthy, beautiful, amazing self. Unfortunately, most of the time, we pay more attention to 1 aspect of the trinity and neglect the others.
For example, in this crazy fast-paced world, often times, we only stop and take sick days from work when we are physically very sick. It’s rare that we stop and take a sick day when we’re just mentally exhausted. And that is not quite right cause a mental exhaustion impairs our ability to perform as much as a physical ailment. Luckily, our body is a very intelligent being, and normally we are just so exhausted that we take off days for the sake of our sanity and well-being.
Here’s an idea: don’t wait till your body sounds an alarm to take a break.
When was the last time you take a break from your life and really allow your mind, body, and soul to rest? When was the last time you go on a retreat?
Ever since I made my mental health and well-being a priority a few years ago, I started taking a retreat yearly and that is one of my greatest ways to stay balanced and to be reminded of the greater picture in my life. Some retreats led me to a journey of wonder and magic, like this one. Some reminded me why it is important to unplug from the world from time to time (as I wrote in my old post here).
So folks, if any part of you wishing you were taking a break somewhere else or if you’re wishing to retreat and relax, don’t hesitate. Make the time. Open your calendar and book the time and start making all necessary reservations.
Commit to honoring this time-off as much as you commit to your work cause your health and well being is extremely important and should be a priority in your life.
Now, if you’re interested to go on a retreat and don’t know where to start or where to look for one, you can join me and a bunch of friends at Glow in Thailand by Social Zen Retreats.
My friends and I will be holding a retreat in August in the beautiful Koh Samui! Your days will be filled with Yoga, Meditation, Dancing, Great nutritious food, Pool time, and time to connect with the beauty of the island. Head over here to read all the details about Glow in Thailand!
I am extremely excited about facilitating Yoga and meditation in this retreat and I would be sooper excited if you could join us! It would be really awesome to share this beautiful retreat with you!
I hope you you give yourself a chance to retreat and relax and I hope you get to reconnect with your true self.
PS: share with me stories and photos of your trip! I would love to hear about it!
I have decided to go on my social media fasting again. This means, no Facebook and Instagram for a while (normally about 40 days). This might be my..hmm.. 6th time doing it.
If my memory served me correctly, I probably first did my social media fasting roughly 9 or 10 years ago and I did it for Lent. As a catholic, I grew up giving up something I really love for the whole duration of Lent, which runs for about 40 days prior to Easter. That particular year, I just decided to completely give up on Facebook. (Other things I’ve given up for Lent includes Beer, favorite TV shows, Emping aka Belinjo crackers – and many other things I absolutely love).
So at that period of time, this became an annual thing. And after a while, as I become not too attached to social media, it turns into a once in a couple/ few years thing. I find it extremely healthy and refreshing. I haven’t done one for the last 2 years and feel that it’s time to do it again.
NOW, A LITTLE CONTEXT.
I love social media. Most of the times, I’m not constantly on it. .. tho there are times I’ll be constantly on it. As someone who naturally gravitates towards technological innovations and magic, I find it extremely useful. I mean, my Master’s thesis was on how we can use social media to market contemporary dance. That’s how much I find its potential fascinating.
Plus, as a photographer and a photo lover, I find it to be an excellent tools to share my snaps and the things I see and experience. It’s great for archival purposes too.
But sometimes, in this crazy life, instead of utilizing it as a tool, we get sucked in it. Without knowing, hours passed by of us scrolling mindlessly over animal videos, or worse, political and harsh videos from some parts of the world.
It also often becomes a habit. When we have nothing to do, our thumb gravitates towards the social media icon on our now-very-very-smart phones and we kill the time by getting transfixed on a screen instead of living in the presence.
It’s also an excellent way to numb feelings or emotions for those who are going through something harsh cause it gets the minds away from facing what we’re supposed to face. I’m obviously not promoting this. I’m just stating that this is also a way of how social media is used these days.
Of course not everyone behaves that way. My social media, for example, has been curated in a way that all the posts are uplifting and inspiring and serves as a reminder to live a better life. And it IS an excellent tool to keep up with everyone’s lives.
But I, of course, from time to time still fall into the zombified mode of social media browsing.
SO I DECIDED TO DO MY SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX AGAIN.
Why? cause I find myself getting way distracted these days. I have a very fast mind that is naturally very busy. It’s a blessing to have quite a fast brain – I can visualize solutions and plans and see how things are connected quite easily. But that also means I have many many tabs open in the Browser that is my Brain. And the bite-sized news on social media has made my attention span shorter.
I observed that happening lately, and so it is time to slow down and learn to be present and have longer attention span on things and actually run one tab at a time.
And lately, I find myself developing a slight FOMO – the current cool kinds term for Fear of Missing Out.
No idea why. What do I fear missing? Experiences? Popularity? Acceptance?
I choose not to think about it. Cause any fear or disturbances that come up are normally a sign that there’s a part of me that I don’t love enough and therefore not comfortable with. This normally leads to having an outward lens instead of an inward lens. The outward lens leads to a tendency of comparing myself to others and develop all sorts of anxiety and fear.
SOOO, IT’S A TIME TO DETOX!!..
…to look inward, love myself more, get in touch with my awesomeness and connect more with my fabulous self!
I’m gonna be honest, this time around it’s going to be tricky. Cause one of the things I do requires me to keep up-to-date of the art happenings in Indonesia. And due to the way Indonesians work, I follow about 70 instagram accounts to check out the art events. And I might have to promote certain things in the next month or so.
But I’m not really worried and I am actually very excited about this fasting. All the times I’ve done it has been absolutely refreshing and wonderful. And I never actually miss out on anything.
And oooh, I just realized that this fasting coincides with the Ramadan fasting and I’ll end the same time as the Eid! Whoaaa. Synchronicity. Awesome.
So, cool kids, have you done something similar? If you haven’t, I encourage you to try it. You don’t have to do it for 40 days like I do. Try it for a week. Heck, try it for 3 days or 1 day, observe what happens, and see what you learn from it.
Worry about not connecting with your family and friends? The phone still have a calling and messaging feature. Call them. And those who matter will text and call you anyway cause you are important in their lives. Living far away? There’s Skype and Google video. Those who you love and love you will always find a way to connect with you and catch up with your lives.
Soooo.. Let me know if you’re interested to try and join me! Would be happy to chat about your experience!
To a more quiet world, full of mindful awareness, with a more personal and lasting connection, and a lot of fabulousness!
Mount Sinai is located in the Eastern part of Egypt. In the Bible stories, it is the place where Moses received the 10 commandments. I was blessed enough to hike the small mountain in my recent trip to the Middle East. I don’t climb a lot of mountain, but I have to say, it is the best hike I’ve experienced in my life. And here are a few things I learned from that hike.
It’s okay if you can’t see where you’re going
Hiking to the top of Mount Sinai was a hike of rocky terrain in pitch-black darkness. We started on the ground at 11 am. We took a Camel ride for roughly a couple hours and then we started hiking to the top of the mountain at about 2 AM.
We carried our flashlights so we could still see. But what we could see was only the step right in front of us cause that’s where the flashlight was pointed to. If not for our big group that had made a snaking line ahead, I wouldn’t know what the path was like.
It was only when the sun started rising on our way down that I could see that the rocky steps were right next to a deep fall. And honestly, I was thankful I wasn’t able to see that while climbing up.
That’s kinda like life isn’t it? Often times we really don’t know where life is going to take us and we can only see the step right in front us. And even with just that 1 step, the fear that rises is big enough to stop us from taking it. What if we can really see where we’re headed and see how steep is the climb? Hundreds more fears might rise up and we might just decide to go back and just sit in one corner cause the climb is too intimidating.
So really, it’s okay to not be able to see where we’re going. Just take it one inch at a time, one step at a time. Have courage and faith, and we’ll get there. And also, there’s always others in front of you that will show the way :).
2. When we’re afraid and doubting ourselves, helping others can help us find our courage.
I had huge doubts on whether I could make it to the top of Mount Sinai. This doubt was in my mind for days and was exemplified in the hours leading to the hike. To be honest, I was doubting my own strength (silly I know, I’m actually pretty fit and should be fit enough to climb the mountain).
After the couple hours of Camel ride, we stopped at a small coffee shop before continuing the hike for another couple hours on foot. By this time, the below-0-degree-celcius-cold air started hitting me hard and I started to shake quite uncontrollably.
Normally when that happens, it tends to get worse and I get sick shortly after. So my doubt was getting stronger. Every second I was questioning whether I could make it to the top. But I was curious, you see. I am a very curious person and that’s how I’ve accomplished a lot of things in life. So my curiosity won and I said to my family that I would go as far as I could. If I couldn’t do it, I would turn around.
So I started climbing, my parents were following behind me. After a few minutes, we started seeing that the climb was quite tricky and we had to be careful with the rocks. Armed with my tiny flashlight, I decided to take on the role of finding the best rock to step on and the best path to climb so my parents can just follow me.
I suddenly took that responsibility of ensuring the safety of my parents and therefore shifting the focus out of myself. I, who was previously more doubtful than them and was legitly scared, started giving them encouragement. I forgot about myself, step by step we go, and we all made it to the top. I cried at the top cause I thought I was never gonna make it.
A lot of times, my fear and doubts get extrapolated cause I kept turning around and getting stuck in my own head. Shifting the focus to others forces us out of our own self-pity hole and we can actually see things more objectively.
Have you heard people giving advice for someone to do volunteer work when that person is being rather miserable? Well this is one of the reasons why :). Sometimes we just have to be with others so we can get out of ourselves.
3. This Universe is really all-mighty and Divine and absolutely breathtaking.
This last lesson is not really a lesson but a reminder.
We are all created just right and we’re all at the right place and always at the right time. The camels are created just right. Their eyes are more sensitive than bats to see in the darkness. Their legs are created to walk on those sandy and rocky surfaces. And they really are some of the most graceful creatures on earth (I fell in love with them).
We, humans are created just right with the intelligence and the ability to help ourselves and help others. And despite what we often like to deny, everything that happens in our lives happen for a reason. If we can see the lessons in them and learn from them, we can continuously grow and adapt to our lives. And we remember things from our ancestors. I followed Venus as my guiding light during the hike, probably just like the early Homo sapiens did when they roamed the land.
We are all connected. Humans and animals, and plants, and rocks. My camel guy, Ahmed, is an Egypt Bedouin who lives thousands of miles away from me. But we both have the same basic human traits. He was able to speak English with me, but even without English, we both spoke the language of Respect. So did him and the camel, and I and the camel. So did both of us and the magnificence of the Mountain. We all spoke 1 language: Respect.
The S T A R S. My goodness. The S T A R S. They filled the velvety night sky with their glittery brilliance and they naturally enchanted all pairs of eyes that look upon their beauty.
The darkness. Oh how it wasn’t just 1 shade of black. It was a million shades of black. And my eyes could capture them all.
And the beauty of the Moonset and the change of color in the dark horizon on top of Mount Sinai was so beautiful, I wept upon its beauty.
We are a part of that beauty and we are part of that bigger magnificent connection that goes beyond our selves. We can open our senses and continue to be in tune to their messages. There are many lessons, stories, songs, and tales stored in these connections. We just have to be open and be willing to listen.
So there. Take it one step at a time, don’t just focus on yourself, and always stay connected, be open and listen to this marvelous Earth.
Let’s continue to marvel at the beauty of this Universe, shall we?